It’s Sunday, and most every Sunday for the past 20 years has been ‘church day’ for me. I’ve been part of Christian weekend gatherings since my return from the Dominican Republic in 19898, when a personal epiphany focused my attention on Jesus.
I’ve volunteered, as a pianist and choir director. I’ve sat in the seats and been part of the crowd. I’ve been a staff member, leading a band and creating services. Mostly, my Sunday mornings have revolved around programming and creative elements.
And music, most always. I play, I sing, I lead.
It’s where I am most comfortable; it’s what I know. There have been many changes of late, as our church has grown. I find myself surrounded by incredibly talented musicians, many of whom are better suited than I to lean into our current playlist. The thrill of seeing young musicians who are serious about their craft and interested in their faith has become more and more compelling; working alongside them as they hone their skills brings me great joy.
But all the while, something has been stirring in me. For some years now, I’ve felt an internal tug toward something more, something different. Spiritually, my personal understanding of faith and worship has evolved, taking on a fuller and more vibrant shape than I ever anticipated. I have spoken of this once or twice, and people seem to think I’m a little off center – but it’s a solid place, a convergence of words and art and experience and truth. My paradigm has shifted, my perspective has broadened.
This is a good thing, a fascinating experience of internal growth (fascinating for me, anyway…)
I still believe passionately in the local church, in the way a community can be drawn together by a common focus. I am convinced that we can do a better job in the evangelical community, that we can continue to lift the bar on excellence and a meaningful, life-altering faith commitment. I’m convinced that the best way to nourish the souls and spirits of the people we live and work with is through honest, authentic communities of faith.
On a personal level, these things have been filtering down through the swirling whirlwind of life and family and work and relationships and career and vocation. I’ve been seeking clarity, praying for direction, wondering aloud at what might come next.
On January 2, while in Cleveland, I reconnected with a friend who had walked alongside of me at one of the most difficult times in my life; when my marriage was imploding and I was wrecked with shame and guilt. Sharon became a new friend in that season, one who offered gentle and generous hospitality, encouragement and grace. She opened her home and her life to me and my kids, and for a couple of years, she was a solid, strong tower of hope. We’d lost touch, but I contacted her as the first days of 2015 gleamed with possibility, and we met for tea and three hours of conversation in front of a warm fire.
“My life is just swirling,” I said. “It’s this constant chaos, inside and out…and it’s not that I need to do less or make any major changes. I know what I am capable of. I have learned to say ‘no’. I just don’t know where to focus. I need to know how to funnel all of this swirling stuff into something intentional.”
It was good to talk, to say it out loud, to see her receive it and contemplate my description. She offered a few words of encouragement. She prayed for me.
We headed back to Virginia the next day. I came back home, jumped back on the merry-go-round and got ready to re-embrace my roles as mom, musician, leader, manager, coach. Et cetera.
The opportunity for focus arrived, in the form of a new role, a new job description. A new ‘home’. A group of people ready to partner in a new thing that has been growing up out in the middle of nowhere. Potential and possibility.
I prayed and talked to some wise and trusted advisors. I worked through the ins and outs with my husband.
I contemplated the oddly coincidental conversation I had with Sharon, remembered the prayers asking for guidance and focus and clarity. I considered my passionate conviction that the local church can, indeed, be a change agent for individuals, for families, for entire communities.
I remembered that my word for this year, chosen in late December, was to be intentional.
And then I said, “Yes.”
So, on this ‘church day’ today, I walked into the Riverside Campus in Fork Union alongside the current Campus Pastor, who announced his decision to move into a new season – joyfully, happily, with no regrets, issues or hard feelings about the church. He shared that information with the crowd, and then turned to me and said, “Beth is your new Campus Pastor.”
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And so, it begins.
Or perhaps, it is an ending; the final moment several years of squirming and wrestling and wondering and laying my hands in my lap. The ending of a season of searching for what might come next for a girl who fell from grace into gratitude, who found healing, who loves Jesus, who loves music, who loves the church enough to be ordained to ministry, who loves to see people find help and hope and healing.
That girl’s questions got a firm answer this week. What comes next might still be a bit of a mystery, but the where, when, why and who are clear.
Beginning February 1, I’ll be the Campus Pastor at PCC’s Riverside Campus.
The process thus far has been a lot about me, and the chaotic, confusing path to get here – but from this point forward, it’s about the people in Fluvanna and Buckingham and Cumberland Counties – and a few from Powhatan and Goochland and elsewhere – who are looking for a place to encounter God in a real, relevant way. It’s about the folks who call Riverside ‘home’, anxious to fill the house with friends and family members.
It’s about the Name we sang of this morning, the great, mystical, unfathomable, power-filled name that brings grace to hungry souls, rest to the fatherless, strength to the weak. In that mystery, that space where the presence of God does the unexplainable, I now walk a slightly different path.
It feels safe, yet unknown. Yet I am not alone. There are a couple hundred of us out there, calling Riverside ‘home’, catching glimpses of God all over the place.
Answered prayers; open doors. I intend to start moving through each one.
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- Chauncey will take a hiatus, but he plans to continue to make PCC his home. There’s nothing hidden – no problems or issues with him personally or with the church. He’s open to your questions, if you have them.
- I’ll still be involved in the overall Creative Process at PCC; almost all of us wear more than one hat in our jobs, and that’s an area in which I will still actively participate. Christine Peyton and Elijah Schiarelli will both see expanded opportunities to help guide the process of production, creative arts and worship.
- I will be moving my small group focus to the Riverside Campus in some form or fashion.
- I will still play music occasionally.
- I’d be glad if you’d like to come along.
- I am grateful for your prayers!